Late last year ASUS announced the PadFone 2 during a special event in Milan. It took a while, but we've finally been able to test one. It's no longer really a state-of-the-art product, but we tested it to find out what this hybrid device has in store.
Smartphone and tablets have been flirting with each other for quite some time, and that they consummated that love interest has been clear with the 5.5-inch and larger 'phablets'. Recent examples are the ASUS FonePad and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 that are both fully functional smartphones, but then with a screen of 7 and 8 inches, respectively. The PadFone is yet another product of the inbreeding of mobile devices, a dumb tablet of 1280x800 pixels that is helpless on its own, and a slot where you put the actual PadFone. The screen only provides an extra battery, a speaker and a front-facing camera, along with a power button and volume buttons. This contraption costs 699 euros.
Even this concept speaks to you but you want a Full HD dumb screen, you'll have to wait for the already-announced successor called the PadFone Infinity. On that model both the smartphone and tablet are equipped with a Full HD display. The PadFone Infinity will be positioned next to the PadFone 2 and will be more expensive.
We appreciate the added value of Full HD over HD more for a tablet than for a phone. On a 5-inch smartphone the differences between 1280x720 and 1920x1080 pixels are negligible in most apps, but of course hi-res photos look better.
For some reason ASUS is acting as if it's invented the wheel with the PadFone, but they're a bit mistaken. During IFA2011 the Spider smartphone from the Korean KT could be used in a similar combination. Motorola's Atrix can also be seen as a precursor. Then there's the BlackBerry PlayBook that initially did not come with a native mail-client, and you instead had to create a BlackBerry Bridge connection to a BlackBerry smartphone.